Reincarnating Success

By Andrew Gilhooley / 411

Kim Simmonds may be one of the guitar world’s best- kept secrets. Without him, it has been argued, there may have been no Led Zeppelin, no Fleetwood Mac nor any of the other great blues-rock acts of the 1960s and ’70s.

He has been inducted into Hollywood’s rock walk of fame alongside Aerosmith, Carlos Santana and James Brown. His band, Savoy Brown, has been touring steadily for more than 35 years and has released 29 albums.

This Friday, Simmonds and Savoy Brown will visit Moe’s Alley in Santa Cruz to play a show that promises to be a real treat for blues fans.

The Savoy Brown Blues Band was formed in London in the mid-1960s, taking its name from the U.S. blues record label Savoy Records. It quickly gained recognition not only for its music but also for being one of the first racially-mixed blues bands to play in British clubs.

The songs “I'm Tired” and "Louisiana Blues” were regularly played on radio, and the albums “Shakedown” and ‘A Step Further,” featuring the 20-minute “Savoy Brown Boogie,” became classics of the genre. In 1962 Savoy Brown was recruited as John Lee Hooker’s backing band for his United Kingdom tour.

Everything looked set to fall apart in 1970, however, when singer Chris Youlden left the band to pursue a solo career, and three other members also departed to form their own band, Foghat.

Undeterred, Simmonds rebuilt the band using former members of Chicken Shack. The reincarnated Savoy Brown Went on to enjoy even greater success than its predecessor, including platinum album sales and tours of the world’s arenas. Some of today’s best-known rock acts, including KISS and AC/DC, opened for Savoy Brown, who shared the bill with Eric Clapton, Jethro Tull and many others.

By the late 70s, Simmonds had relocated to the United States and began recording albums with a wide rangeof musical styles, including the acoustic “Slow Train” and the hard-rocking “Rock and Roll Warriors.”

A three-album deal with Crescendo Records in 1987 took the band firmly in the rock direction, and several more years of hard touring with a variety of band line-ups ensued. In 1999, Savoy Brown released “The Blues Keep Me Holding On,” signifying a return to its original roots. `

The current line-up of Savoy Brown includes David Malachowski (formerly of Shania Twain's band) on guitar, Gerry Sorrentino on bass and Dennis Cotton on drums.

Judging by the enthusiastic reactions of the band's legions of fans, even after 30-plus years in the business, Simmonds and Savoy Brown just keep getting better and better.

First published in "411", The Salinas Californian, August 8, 2002

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